Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It really is a Happy Chanukah -- first time since 2009

This year Chanukah is truly a happy one for me. I have not had a Happy Chanukah since before December 2009.

December 2009 was my first Chanukah alone.  I remember returning home after work on the first night of Chanukah.  I had set up my Chanukiah the night before and had planned to light the candles and sing Maoz Tzur when I came home from work.  Well, I got home, and I attempted to do so.  But I couldn't. I could not bring myself to light the candles alone, and to sing the songs.  I just was SO SO SO lonely.  I had no children with me, no family with me, no friends with me and I was just SO alone.  I think I curled up on the sofa and cried.

I did manage to celebrate Chanukah in 2010, more or less -- I was able to be with my brother and his family for some of it, in Baltimore.  I was busy -- with work, and a bit of a social life.  I was also very much in the mode of accepting my new reality and creating a new reality by planning for my aliyah.  It was still not a particularly HAPPY Chanukah yet, for me, but I was trying.

This year, 2011, I can say that it is a Happy Chanukah.  I am busy. I have my family close to me. I am not alone. I am not lonely.  I have many many good friends.  I have two grandsons who are absolutely precious.  My youngest grandson just came home from the hospital, recovered from his bout of viral meningitis, B"H.

We gave a present to Gavriel and it was SUCH a pleasure to watch him open it and delight in playing with it.  I lit candles with my family, and we sang together.  I am meeting many new people, and having a nice life.

Thank you, G-d!

Happy Chanukah to all my family and friends. I love you all...

Friday, December 9, 2011

I hate being single




Thursday, December 1, 2011

Taking pleasure in small things

Today I had a very pleasurable day!

Today I returned to Tel Aviv, to deal with getting my hearing aid fixed.  I also went to a place there for a mammogram.  First I went to the Medton corporate offices on Ben Yehuda.  I asked to speak with Shay -- CEO of Medton. He was not available for an hour and a half. I had to then explain to the receptionist that I could not wait that long, I had another appt at 4 PM and I was from out of town, etc.  I also had to explain to her my reason for needing to speak with Shay.  She was very nice to me and she made a few calls to see if she could help me get connected to the person who could fix my hearing aid.  I also showed her the letter from Peer Lauritson to Shay and the agreement between them vis-a-vis my hearing aid.

She was successful and told me to go to the Medton office around the corner on Mendele -- this was the first Medton office I had visited two weeks ago.  When I arrived at that office, they were waiting for me and very welcoming. They took the hearing aid and looked at it. Turned out that the wire/tube needed to be replaced.  They were able to replace it right then and there and voila! I had my hearing aid back and was able hear in my left ear once again!

Then I retraced my steps to get back to my car which was parked in a lot and drove to the next place for my mammogram.  I had to park several blocks away as there was no parking anywhere near the building.  I arrived a bit early but was able to be seen immediately.  I had the mammogram taken and then was able to leave and head home.

So, what was it about doing all this that gave me such pleasure?

I conducted all my business today in HEBREW.  ALL OF IT!  Such a small thing that!  And yet it gave me such pleasure.  I love speaking Hebrew...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Update on the saga of my hearing aids...

In my last post I detailed  the difficulties I was having in getting one of my hearing aids repaired. The Oticon distributors in Israel were refusing to honor my Oticon authorized warranties which I received in the US. This despite having received assurances from Oticon that the warranties WOULD be honored!!

I was then in touch with the audiologist in Baltimore who I had worked with to find the best hearing aids for me.  It was through her that they were purchased and the warranties provided.  She was directly in touch with Oticon and after being unable to obtain satisfaction otherwise, the president of Oticon, Peer Lauritsen stepped in.

Well, folks, that did the trick. Here is a copy of the letter my audiologist received from Oticon: (I have removed the contact info, sorry)

From: Anna Musser
Date: November 23, 2011 10:13:07 AM EST
To: Julie Norin
Subject: Assistance Needed by Oticon Inc.
Good Morning Julie,

Below is information on how we will resolve this matter for the time being. Our president Peer Lauritsen approved our Colleague in Israel to bill us for any charges that may be incurred (as the instruments and speakers are covered under our US new instrument warranty).

We will be also forwarding a note to our Colleagues in Israel to confirm this arrangement. They are welcome to work with us regarding any questions or charges.

His details are:

Mr. Shay Davidovich
Mobile: +97254 433 6288

The company details are:

51, Ben-Yehuda St., P.O. Box 3184
63 431 Tel Aviv
Phone: +972 3526 8101
Michael Bjergegaard our sales manager has already talked to Mr. Shay and he will take good care of the customer.

let me know if you need any additional information. We will be contacting the office again. Please keep in touch and let us know that everything is taken care of properly. Thank you.

 Best Regards,
Anna Musser
Customer Service Representative, Oticon Inc.

Oticon, Inc.
29 Schoolhouse Road
Somerset, NJ 08875, USA

Direct    800-526-3921 X2129
Fax       732-560-7376
Web      www.oticonusa.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two more only in Israel experiences good and bad...

As most of my readers know, I wear hearing aids.  Before I made aliyah I took steps to acquire brand new hearing aids since my old ones were about four years old and already on their way out. I did not want to have to deal with attempting to acquire new hearing aids in Israel so shortly after my arrival.  I also understood that there was probably no chance in hell that I could acquire them for nothing.  But, in the US where there social services infrastructure is vast, and rather well supported, I felt I had a better chance of doing that.

I was in a position where I felt I could be eligible for such assistance.  I thus went to the Division of Rehabilitation Services of Maryland and applied.  My application was successful and after many months of meetings, testing, and working with an audiologist to find the right hearing aid for me, I was successfully fitted with brand new hearing aids - Agil Pro power aids by Oticon.  Upon receiving the aids I also received a warranty for repair and a warranty for replacement.  I then asked about coverage by those warranties while I would be living in Israel.  We spoke with Oticon directly and they told us that both warranties are 100% valid and honorable in Israel.

In Israel there is only one distributor of Oticon hearing aids, Medton.  Medton has a number of offices throughout the country.  I decided (unwisely it would later turn out) to go to their "flagship" location, in Tel Aviv.  This was the trip I took yesterday, despite not feeling very well.  My daughter and two grandsons joined me in this excursion for a break in their routine.  Trust me -- this was a break!

Using my trusty Garmin GPS I easily found my way to where the Medton office was located and then proceeded to look for a place to park. I found one a block away and parked. But this was not free parking.  I then searched, in vain, for a nearby kiosk where I could purchase the parking card to display in my window.  With an unsuccessful search for such I began asking passerby where I could find such a kiosk. Well, apparently it could be found several blocks away in the opposite direction in which I needed to go.  I realized I could get a ticket while I would be on my way to purchase the parking card.  (yes, BAD design, and yes, typically Israeli). I was going to move the car when one of the passersby whom I had stopped to ask where the kiosk was, took out a parking card from his briefcase and gave it to me with instructions on how to mark it (by scratching out the day, date, month, time, etc) and display it in the window of my car.  I wanted to pay him but he refused.  This was the typical really great only in Israel experience for this day!

With a smile on my face I then proceeded with my daughter, Chloe, grandsons Gavriel and Eliya to the Medton office.  We entered the office (a nice but small place, easily accessible, clean and well-lit), and I approached the reception window.  I explained my business -- one of my HA's had stopped working, I think it just needs a cleaning -- and I also assured them that if the work was more than just a cleaning, I have  the warranties for coverage and showed them these. (Of course, they were in English, but trust me -- they understood).   Well, they insisted that they could not honor the warranties and further insisted that my HA needed real work and it would cost me 900 NIS (nearly $250).  I told them that these warranties were issued by OTICON and that they, as Oticon distributors were legally bound to honor the warranties -- to no avail.   So, we prepared to leave - my intention being to go home and contact both my social worker and audiologist in Maryland and let them know what is happening. I knew my audi has a close working relationship with Oticon and that she (and they) would come through for me.   But before we could leave, we each needed to use the facilities and then Chloe needed to nurse Eliya. So we were "hanging out" in the waiting area of the Medton office for a bit.  Just before we were prepared to depart the woman at the desk told me that if I could produce a "cheshbonit" (receipt) for the HA's in MY NAME, they would honor the warranties.  I explained to her that the HA's were purchased for me by a government agency so I could not produce such a thing, but that the HA's and the warranties are in my name and, more importantly, my HA serial numbers are in the Oticon database with MY NAME.   No go.  So, we left.

Upon arriving home I immediately hit my computer and sent out an email to both my social worker and audi back in Maryland.  The response from them was swift and completely in agreement with me.  My audi was in contact with Oticon and Oticon stated that Medton is legally obligated to honor my warranty.  They then asked my audi to provide them with all the names and contact info for the people who turned me away.  They said if they continue to refuse to honor my warranty then Oticon will find another distributor in Israel.

In the meantime, I remembered that I had cut out an advert for a hearing aid place in Jerusalem.  I pulled out that ad to look at it.  It is also for a Medton office.  However, this ad was in English, in the JPost magazine, and targeted to English speaking clientele.  The audiologists at this place are American.  I have decided that before I proceed with any action against Medton via Oticon, I am going to give this place a shot.   I will be calling them a bit later this morning and arrange for an appointment.  So, for now, this is a story "to be continued"...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bar Mitzvah, Reunions, Emotions

Today I took the day off to go to Yerushalyim to attend the Bar Mitzvah of a friends son.  I decided to go in with my son-in-law on his way to work, to take the light rail to Sha'ar Yaffe and walk to the Kotel for the Bar Mitzvah.  I would then take the light rail and then bus back home.  I anticipated a half day...


It took much longer.  But first, let me discuss my emotional experience. I arrived at the Kotel just as they were davening Shacharit, right before Kriyat Shema.  I was glad that I was able to get there early enough to actually participate.  I found Pnina right away, and then, I heard it -- Shabi's voice, just as Pnina was telling me he was there for the Bar Mitzvah!  Shabsi was davening for the amud. I knew that I might see some people I knew from Teaneck, but had not expected to see Shabsi.  So, I was really surprised and I started crying. (Quietly, so as not to disturb their simcha).  Then, I climbed on a chair and saw Carlos, and Moshe, and Aryeh and Shabsi, and I was kind of overwhelmed.  Barry had loved Carlos and his son Moshe so much.  Moshe did a BEAUTIFUL job leining and the entire Bar Mitzvah was just lovely.  I also saw Allison Alt, and Danielle Barta, and Rebecca Furer.  They were so cute. They each wanted to take their picture with me. I felt like a celebrity!! I told them that I wanted to have them all come to me for a Shabbat -- it could be a mini Teaneck Shabbaton!  

After the Bar Mitzvah we went to the restaurant, Between The Arches. It is in a tunnel and it is really nice.  We had drinks and nosh. Then there was a tour. I did not go on the tour. After the walking and standing around my hip was really hurting me. So, I stayed at the restaurant with their things until they returned. Then we went downstairs and sat down to lunch.  It was a lovely lunch, with all kinds of salads, and dips and spreads, a tapas bar of sorts.  Then there was salmon ceviche, and then salmon teriyaki on skewers with sweet potatoes, green beans and mushrooms, a lentil ball, and cherry tomatoes.  There was an assortment of desserts which I passed on.  I had limonana (lemonade with mint and crushed ice).  

After lunch I walked back to get the light rail. That too was not without incident. First, as I was walking there, I passed through one of the outdoor cafe's that is frequented mostly by young kids and there was Liav Lewitt.  I said hello to him.  Then a bit later I stopped at a caspomat to take some money out and when I was done, I turned around and saw Alef Lewitt.  It took him a moment to recognize me. He looked REALLY tired and out of it.  He had no idea that his brother was sitting around the corner!  Then, when I reached the intersection of Yaffe Street that leads up to where I would pick up the light rail, a woman fainted, and then began having a seizure.  EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE went to help her. One man threw his jacket under his head and used a stick to prevent her from biting her tongue. Another woman sat down next to her and held her head.  A third woman was on the phone calling emergency and another one called her doctor for instructions.  Another person offered water.   It was amazing.  I stayed for a while because I was so scared for her and wanted to know she was okay but I realized I could do nothing so I said a prayer for her and left. 

I then took the light rail back uptown, and found my way to the bus stop to catch my bus back home.  Now about the "it took much longer" comment.  Walking TO the Kotel was not so bad, it was mostly all downhill, plus it was early in the day and my energy level was good.  But by the time I arrived my hip was aching me.  Then, I had to turn down participating in the tour -- which was about a two hour long tour -- because I knew that my hip would hurt and that I still had to walk BACK to the light rail later.  Sure enough, after lunch, which ended at 2 PM, I walked back. This time it was all UPHILL, and I was tired, and my hip was already hurting me. I had to go S-L-O-W-L-Y. So by the time I made it to the train stop to get the light rail it was nearly 3 PM!  Then I had to WAIT for the train, and then the train was FULL and made many stops and took a long time at each stop so by the time I arrived at the Tachanat Mercazit it was nearly 4 PM.  Then I had to walk several blocks to get to the bus stop to catch the bus back to the Yishuv.  The bus does not go INTO the Yishuv, it let me off outside the Yishuv and I had to walk home from the bus stop.  There was traffic going home, so by the time I got home it was 5:30 PM!  It took 3.5 hours for me to get home after the lunch was over!!! 

Now I know why I wanted (and have) a car. I knew this would be an issue for me.  

Anyway it was a nice day all around...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ulpan and a good full life

I have not posted here in a while. That is partly because I have been busy and partly because I have not really had much to say.  I go to ulpan every morning for four hours, then I go home and either look for work, or work around the house, or shopping.  

Learning in ulpan at this time of my life is so much more difficult than it was thirty two years ago.  For one thing,   I was much younger then and for another my hearing loss today is greater than it was back then.  Additionally, I have the problem of difficulty with making sense of sounds that I hear.  It can sometimes be a struggle in English, but in Hebrew it is TRULY a struggle.   My issues with using the phone have not subsided in any great deal.  I can use the phone but only easily with a handful of people -- such as my mom.  But most of the time it is simply a big struggle, and many times simply impossible and I just give up. 

BUT, I can say that after being in Israel now, for a bit over two months, I AM beginning to feel that I can follow spoken Hebrew much better and I can even speak it better.  The problem I have is when I am spoken to in Hebrew and I cannot follow what is being said because of my hearing, and I indicate as such to the speaker, rather than attempt to speak Hebrew more slowly, or more clearly, or even more simply -- they switch to English.  And that totally defeats the purpose for me.  It is just too much work for me to argue with them. They do not understand. 

Today in Ulpan it was finally my turn to sit in front of the class and tell my story.  I had actually tried to avoid it but was unable to do so completely and finally had to do it.  So, I told my story but clarified first off that I have a great life, that I am VERY happy in it, and that in no way do I wish to be thought of as a complainer.  I was not complaining, just telling my story.  

It is far from done, I hope. I hope I have much more life to live.  I scare so much more easily today than I ever did.  I am afraid of illness, of injury, of bad things.  But I try to ignore my fears and just move on.  

I have a brand new grandson. His name is Eliya Yehuda. He is VERY cute and tiny and adorable.  We had a beautiful bris and seudah following the bris in our home.  I was very pleased with the turnout. Many of the people whom I consider my friends and who are important to me came.  It was an interesting and nice mix of people.  

Today, I learned something new:  I learned that The Evil One got divorced.  I am NOT surprised.  She once was married to the best man possible and she scorned him.  She then chose to marry a real loser - a man who is mentally ill.  I am actually sorry she divorced him. I wanted to see her continue with him as an albatross around her neck!  

Anyway, such is my life these days...


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gilad Shalit is home...

Gilad Shalit is home.  I AM happy for him, for his family, for us.  But I am worried.  I am worried about the repercussions  -- we freed ONE THOUSAND murderers in exchange for his safe return – FIVE years after his abduction.  Many of those whom we freed, WILL kill again.  These are not random killings. These are targeted, terroristic, anti-semitic killings in the name of a religion that tolerates none other but its own – and that targets Jews in particular for horrific deaths.

What will happen in the mind of Gilad Shalit, the first time one of those whom we freed kills again?  What will happen when he realizes his life was traded for the life of those killed?  For that, in essence, is what has happened, or rather, will happen.   There is no way that one cannot extrapolate such reasoning.  And in the mind of a young man, who has endured five years of torture and little to no communication with anyone who was at all sympathetic to him, who was obviously not treated with great care (to wit: his appearance, pale, thin, nearly emaciated, obviously emotionally traumatized) it would not be a great stretch for him to encounter this turn of logic.   It is thus I fear for him, for his psyche, for his well being – and by extension for the well being of his family. 

What is happening now, in the minds of the families of those who were killed by those whom we freed?  How do they reconcile the welcoming home of this young man, who is being hailed as a hero, with the unending void left by those who were torn from them by those whom we freed?   There is a deep-seated need in the minds of most of us, for some sort of vengeance against anyone who violently removes from our midst those whom we love.  Incarceration is the response that we generally take to resolve that, to lock these people up so they cannot do more harm.  It is also considered more humane, than torture, or punishment by physical harm or death.  But, the release of a child’s murderer is pure torture for those already experiencing the worst torture of their lives – the permanent loss of their child.

I am not stating that the trade was wrong or right.  I am stating that I am concerned.  This trade, in my eyes was a “lose/lose” proposition.   It has been said that Bibi Netanyahu made a hard decision.  Perhaps.  I recently attended an event at which Uzi Arad spoke.  Uzi Arad is the former chief deputy of the Mossad.   He said, he felt that the harder decision for Netanyahu to make would have been to say NO.  No trade.  Can you imagine?  Telling Gilad Shalit’s parents, “No, we are not bringing your boy back. The price is too high.”   How could one do that? 

A friend of mine pointed out that in Tehillim, for the day that Gilad was released, both Sukkot and Gilad are mentioned.  Gilad’s release came about in the midst of the festival of Sukkot.  From this she wishes to extrapolate that it was meant to be, that there is some hashgacha pratis, divine providence, in this happening, now, at this time.  I pray that she is right. 
No, there are no easy decisions. We lose anyway we look at it, no matter how we play it.  For, in the eyes of the world, we Jews are always wrong.  We are wrong.  We have no rights. We are considered usurpers (formerly that was usurers).  On the one hand we hear the cry, “Go back where you came from”, from anti-semites across the world.  Well, we did, we are continuing to do that and what do we get for that?  We are told, “You have no rights to be in Israel”.   But that is where we came from?

So, world, which is it?  I think the answer is simple:  as far as the world is concerned Jewish blood is cheap.  It is acceptable for us to free one thousand murderers in exchange for one young and vulnerable soldier.  It is acceptable to do this knowing that those murderers will turn around and DO IT AGAIN.  But Jewish blood is cheap so it is okay. 

But we have a secret. The Jews will never go away. We will never disappear.  G-d promised us that we will always be here. 
We are a nation.  We are mighty and great because we have the hand of G-d over us, protecting us.   

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Too much drama...

There is too much drama in my life. I really, truly want a dull, uneventful life...

Before my husband died, when I would hear or read stories of people dying suddenly due to accidents or freak occurrences, I would wonder how their loved ones - spouses, parents, children, siblings - reacted initially to the news.  I would wonder how they got on with their lives.  I would then wonder, what if that happened to me?  How would I react?  Would I cry buckets of tears?  Would I pray to Hashem for a different verdict?  Would I be angry? Calm?  Numb?  Then, I would pray that I would never have to find out how I would react.

Unfortunately, the answer to that prayer was no.  I would find out.  On January 14, 2009 I received the phone call that would change my life, the call in which I was informed that my husband had fallen and seriously injured himself.  A second call, made by myself, to the hospital, confirmed that he'd been brought in with a "major brain bleed".  It was then that I knew, I would never see him again, not alive and well.  So, even though, when the surgeon came out and told me he had no hopes for Mr. Stern's recovery, and even though I took it hard, it was a very brief cry.  Except for that, I cried very little and I was calm.  All the way through the first week while he languished in the hospital and through the second week in which I and his whole family sat shiva, I was calm.  I smiled and talked with my visitors. I ate, slept, and talked. I talked, a lot, about Barry.  But I was calm.  No tears.  At night, the loneliness was very heavy on me.  Right from the first night...I was lonely. The aloneness and the loneliness were very, very heavy on me. 

But I always felt somewhat guilty.  I felt guilty that I had not dropped to my knees and prayed with all my might to Hashem to change the verdict.  I felt that my faith in Hashem was not strong enough and so I was thus unable to do that. 

Since Barry died though, I have felt Hashem's presence.  Even through the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad two years in which I was treated so terribly by his family, I felt Hashem's presence in my life and the Hashgacha Pratis which defined so much of my life then. I still feel His presence and I am still benefitting greatly from His Hashgacha Pratis.  My faith in Hashem, since Barry's death, has grown. 

This past Chag that faith was again tested.  And once again, I had an opportunity to learn how I would respond.  Before I continue with this story, let me reassure my readers that no one died, and B"H, everyone is just fine, 100% fine!  Here is what happened:

It was about one hour before Chag.  We (me and Chloe and Jonathan and Gavriel) were in Nof Ayalon, staying at my mechutenet's home.  Everyone was there, including Jonathan's married brother David and his wife, Ruchel, and their baby Tzvi.  I was just heading upstairs to get dressed when I heard a scream.  I paused a moment on the stairs wondering if I should investigate.  I decided to go down and just check on what had happened.  I went downstairs and saw everyone in the dining room.  My daughter Chloe had Gavriel in her arms.  Everyone was sort of crowded around her and him. I went closer. This is what I saw:  I saw Gavriel's face was blue, his eyes were closed, and he was floppy and nonresponsive.  I perceived somehow that he had fallen and hit his head (on the floor? I was not sure of that). I jumped to the conclusion that the knock on his head had been hard enough to knock him out cold.  

Now, knowing that was how my husband died, that was a terrible thing for me to see.  Chloe screamed "Breathe!" at him, and he did! He breathed, but looked totally out of it and his eyes were hooded.  I screamed, "Oh My G-d!" at which point Chloe yelled at me, "Get away from me!"  (my reaction had made her more frightened) and then she ran with Gavriel to the pediatrician who lived across the street.  

I, in shock, just fell to my knees, screaming, crying, and....praying.  I was praying aloud, like I had never prayed before.  I was begging, pleading with Hashem.  

After a while, I calmed myself a bit (still ROILING inside, with adrenaline still pumping through me) and managed to go over to the doctor too.  Chloe still did not want me there, my presence made her nervous and she wanted to be calm.  Finally, though, as we were leaving, with the doctor telling us he was fine, I asked what had actually happened. 

Well, what had happened was far different from what I had imagined.   Gavriel was running around the kitchen.  The oven door was opened, and it was at the same height as his head. Chloe saw he was about to run right into it, so she reached out to push him out of harms way.  She was able to reach him and do so, but he hit the oven door anyway -- and that knocked him down and he hit his head a second time, on the floor.  

He started to cry, mouth open, but no sound.  In his shock from pain he forgot to breathe.  After a bit he passed out, but seconds later revived.  A nurse friend of mine explained what had happened thus:  "It is very very frightening when they hit their heads-but it was a very normal physiological reaction for him to pass out momentarily-basically it is a way for his body to re-set ....he was so scared that he couldn't breathe for a few second, but of course he has to breathe and his body knows this and so he loses conciousness momentarily so that his fear is bypassed and he can start breathing again."

This was such a traumatic event -- both for me and for my daughter.  We both agreed we hope NEVER to experience this again.  However, we were told that some babies do this a lot.  I hope Gavriel is NOT one of those...my poor heart can't take it! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Post Yom Kippur Musings...

Yom Kippur this year was not the YK I had envisioned, nor even typical of YK for me at all.  Typically, I spend the entire day in shul, davening, emoting, feeling, singing, crying, and I feel good doing it and I feel good about it.

This year two things happened:  the first and most devastating was that I woke up with a headache.  This is truly unusual as I tend to be a good fast-er. I have always controlled my intake of substances that can cause headaches during a fast prior to the fast but I no longer have to do that since I hardly ever eat/drink those things anymore anyway.  But I got up, got dressed in my all white outfit for YK, and went to shul.  I was quite early, but 15 minutes late, as per the printed schedule, but it did not matter.  Davening did NOT begin on time. There were so few people in attendance, we did not have a minyan.  In fact, I was in shul a good 20 minutes before davening started.  This NEVER happened in Ch"L.  It was fine, just a point of reference for me.

The second thing that happened was that I COULD NOT HEAR the Ba'al Koreh (cantor) -- either for Pesukei D'Zimra (preliminary prayers) or for Shacharit.  So, there I was with a HEADACHE and I was STRAINING to hear so I could follow along.  There were pitiful few women in attendance, as the bulk did not, would not arrive until well into Chazarat HaShatz (repetition of Shemoneh Esrei aka Amidah). By the time we reached the end of the Chazarat HaShatz my head was pounding.  I left shul and went home.

I did not know what I was going to do.  My daughter was home with Gavriel.  I lay down for a bit on the sofa in the salon -- which was where she was sitting and Gavriel was playing. He came over to kiss my keppy (forehead) and he played by me for a while too. It was fine, he was not so noisy, just happy.  After a while, I decided to lie down in my bed, where I drew the shades, closed the door, and the overhead fan was on too.  I did fall asleep, but when I woke up, I still had the headeache.  It has been a fact for me that if I fall asleep with a headache I will wake up with one.  After an hour or so, I finally agreed to take a shiur (a small measurement) of electrolyte infused lemonade with 2 headache pills.  It took a couple of hours but it did help quiet the headache for me.  By now, though, I felt distinctly uncomfortable about returning to shul and having to struggle to find where in the davening we are, and to try and make what was left meaningful to me.   So I decided to daven at home.  My head was not pounding and I felt able to do so.  And so, I found myself davening in the middle of my salon.  It was nice on the one hand to know I had as much time as I needed to daven, I had plenty of space to move around and I could actually think about what I was saying.  And this I did.  G-d knows, literally, that I asked for so much, and yet so little.  

I had agreed, before YK, that I would babysit my grandson for Neilah to enable my daughter to attend.  She is able to attend so little, being pregnant and having Gavriel. She and Jonathan try to take turns but it can still be quite difficult for them.  Neither they, nor I, can afford to hire someone to care for him.  Unlike in the US, Beit Rimon, where we were davening, does not offer child care services for his age.  So I stayed with Gavriel and we only went to shul together toward the end so we could hear the Shofar.  We arrived as they were doing Avinu Malkenu. I was gratified to be able to hear that, even from the back where we were hanging out because it was easier with Gavriel.

I just read a post by a friend (http://bataliyah.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-would-happen-if-woman-told-truth.html) in which she describes her angst at being relegated to sitting where she cannot hear the davening well, where she is essentially unable to fully participate in the davening, sitting amongst women who are mostly silent as they daven, or daven distractedly, while being able to understand that the men are davening aloud, in unison, and swaying, dancing, stamping feet, and are fully participating in the experience.  This is a woman who does NOT have a hearing problem, as I do.   And, her issues mimic mine.  I, too, feel somewhat resentful of not being able to fully participate. I love to sing, I love to dance, and I too, find, my soul yearns to express itself in this manner.  I have long thought that not only should be there be a mechitza separating men from women, but that WOMEN SHOULD HAVE THEIR OWN MINYAN.  And yes, I know it is done in some places.  But this should be COMMONPLACE.   It should be a communal effort (kehillati) to create a space for the children to be cared for and to hire people to care for them and there should be two minyanim: one for men and one for women.  The only time we would be together would be for the Torah reading, which would be done as a precise time and would be planned for togetherness. I do not advocate a separate minyan ALL THE TIME.  Just for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah.  That's it.

And women should be encouraged to learn to sing, to dance and to be able to let THEIR souls express themselves in the same way that men do -- and to develop their own womanly ways of expressing themselves.  I do not understand why this has not developed.   I totally empathize with Rivkah in what she expressed in her post.  I know my suggestion will be considered controversial.  But why?  Why should it be?  Why shouldn't it simply be looked at as a solution to providing a nice environment for women to daven in?  Today's women, while still usually the primary caregiver for the children, and still the primary household organizers, generally have so much more "free time" on their hands than their predecessors, thanks to all the modern conveniences of life.  Providing women with their own space to daven will not cause them to suddenly stop doing all those tasks (mitzvot, actually) to which they accustomed to doing.

Rivkah, you are not alone.  There ARE other women who feel as you do.  I too, find myself wondering why sections are being skipped, or struggle with alternating nusach in a mixed shul, and struggle, even more so than you, with hearing the davening.  I too, long to be surrounded by women SINGING so I can sing along and not feel too inhibited to sing aloud because if I did everyone would hear only me...(and I have the world's worst singing voice!).

Perhaps we will make this happen for us, somehow.

And now, with a smile, I face the year to come.  I pray, and have prayed, that it will be a good year, for ALL of Klal Yisrael, men and women and children.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Deeper into RH...

In my last post I described my Rosh Hashanah, but not my observations of my own tefilla.  Two posts ago I wrote of my expectations for feeling and emoting during davening.  

This year I missed attending shul for davening Erev RH.  This was extremely unusual for me.  Even in all the years in which I prepared ALL the RH meals at home, for more than 24 people most of the time -- and without ANY help (see explanation below for that), I ALWAYS got to shul for Erev RH davening.  But this year I simply was unable to go, there was still much to be done in preparation for the meals.  I am not up to my old standards -- I move more slowly and tire more easily.  Even with my daughter sharing the work, and even with my son-in-law pitching in and even with my mechutenet bringing some cooked foodstuffs, I found we were "behind" in our prep.  Chloe is pregnant and we have a 2.5 year old rambunctious little boy underfoot.  I am still feeling the physical after effects of spending nearly two years under tremendous stress.  So I guess it was par for the course...

But in the morning, I was able to get to shul, 10 minutes early, to secure an ideal seat for myself (albeit not ideal for Chloe), and to stay for the entire davening.  (We HAD done ALL our cooking ahead of time after all, just so this could happen!)  

As anticipated I DID emote, I did feel all those intense feelings that come over me every RH and YK. Some of the tunes were familiar to me and helped to evoke the feelings and others were new to me and beautiful and also brought about the same feelings.  Best of all, I was paying more attention to the actual liturgy, in Hebrew, and really understanding it.  It reminded me how I did the same when I was in Israel thirty years ago.  Even though I have not learned a huge amount of NEW things in Hebrew at this point, what I have done is regained my familiarity with it and ability to pull out meanings by seeing the shoresh (root) of the words.  

I will write more about my ulpan experiences in a future post, but before I close this post a word of explanation about the lack of help in my past preparations for chagim.  When Barry was alive, we hosted many of the meals for all the chagim in our house and with immediate and extended family alone that could mean feeding up to 24 people!  We frequently added to that by inviting friends as well.  Both Barry and I worked full time, both of us had to commute to and from work, both of us were also VERY active in our shul/community.   When we married, I initially attempted to encourage all the girls to join us in our Shabbat and Chag preparations - cleaning, cooking, other preparations.  But his daughters were extremely resistant to helping us, and downright resentful.  My daughter had been used to helping out but I found I could not hold her to a different standard than his daughters.  When I was unsuccessful in receiving any help from his kids, after two years, I gave up.  I also let my own daughter slide with them.  I hired a cleaning woman who came in every week and cleaned the house.  But I was still left with doing all the shopping and cooking by myself for the most part. Barry helped by doing all the non-cooking prep, and with doing dishes and sweeping, and putting things away.  I was like a tornado -- I moved with lightening speed doing my cooking, and cooking multiple things simultaneously.  I rarely burned or ruined a dish.  I no longer can do this.  It is too much for me.  So, anyway, that is why I had no help. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shehechayanu V'kimanu V'higiyanu L'Azman HaZeh...

There were many firsts for me this year.  First time as an Olah Chadashah making Rosh Hashanah in Israel. First time really making RH in my own home since Barry died.  First time having RH with my MARRIED daughter, her husband, my grandson.  First time having my mechutenet come stay in my home and join us for RH.  First time planning, preparing, cooking, etc for RH WITH my daughter.  And of course, there were the first fruits, in my case it was first time ever eating FRESH Tamarim (dates), the Rimonim (which grow here on the Yishuv in ABUNDANCE), some starfruit, and Passi-Flora (aka Passion Fruit), which I just LOVE.  

I davened, for the very first time ever, at Beit Rimon, which is a shul just around the corner from my home.  Up until now, I had gone to Glenwood to daven - which is a HUGE American shul in the Yishuv. I chose to daven there because of its inherent familiarity for me.  I already know many of the members, the davening is familiar, the tunes used are those I know, it is Nusach Ashkenaz, and so on.  But upon inquiry about seats there for the Yomim Noraim I was dismayed to learn that they cost money, there is an expectation of membership, and eventually of building fund support as well.  Additionally, I could not be guaranteed a place to sit where I would be able to both seen and hear, and thus be able to participate in the davening. I was told I would likely be seated downstairs -- meaning sitting on cheap plastic chairs which would aggravate yet another of my conditions, namely, my bad back (from a back injury sustained in n1996), and compounded by arthritis in my hips, knees, and ankles.  Furthermore, there was no way that my very pregnant daughter would be able to tolerate sitting for very long on such a seat.  Then, when we decided that my mechutenet and her teenage daughter and son would be joining us, I knew that there was no way we could arrange seating that would be acceptable for all of us.  So, I somewhat reluctantly abandoned all thoughts of davening at Glenwood.  We then inquired into the situation at Beit Rimon.  We were informed that there is no charge for seats, and it is set up on a first come, first served basis.  For me, that worked.  I am a morning person and I knew that I would arrive at the shul before anyone else and thus would be guaranteed an appropriate seat.   

It worked out rather nicely for the most part. The downside to the seat I chose is that it is far from the entrance and not ideal for Chloe. She did not stay very long anyway stemming from needs associated with Gavriel.  So she chose, for the most part, to sit right near the entrance, albeit on a plastic chair.  But both Yael (my mechutenet) and Liora (her daughter) were able to sit near me.  To be sure, the woman who usually sat where I was did ask me to move but I explained to her my reason and need to sit there.  She was still a bit (obvious to me) annoyed, but after a few minutes she felt badly that she let me know she was annoyed and she said "Shana Tova" to me in an apologetic tone.  It WAS an inconvenience to her and her family as they could not all sit in the same row.  But even if I had moved elsewhere, and I could have, I would have been asked to move by others.  So, I chose to stick to where I was sitting.  

I did meet a number of people at Beit Rimon, some whom I knew already, and others whom I just met.  All were very welcoming of me. In fact, I felt more welcomed there than at Glenwood.  It could simply be that the place is smaller. 

Beit Rimon turned out to be PERFECT for me. I can see and I can hear and I can participate in the davening.  I learned some new (and beautiful) tunes, and Nusach Sefard is only slightly different from Nusach Ashkenaz and I can get used to it.  I am so glad that we went there and I plan to daven there from now on. 

We ate several of our meals at home and several of our meals out.  It seems that we cooked a humongous amount of food, and we did -- but it was not for all meals.  Between me and Chloe and Jonathan we made the following: Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Chicken, Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes, Roasted Orange Root Veggies, Balsamic and Honey Glazed Carrots, Banana Cake, Vanilla Plum Cake, 2 trays Eggplant Parmigiana, String Beans with Honey Mustard Sauce, 7 Challot, gefilte fish, cheesecake, pasta salad, bruschetta, garlic bread, cranberry apple crumble, sephardic honey nut cake, asian cabbage salad and flourless chocolate cake with 
whipped cream, schnitzels, mango salsa, lemonana and iced tea.

We still have some leftovers: eggplant parmigiana and chicken. We have at least 2 meals in leftovers. 

Anyway, that was my RH...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rosh Hashana Tikatevu...

It will very soon be Rosh Hashanah.  And as in past years, I find myself caught up in the whole shopping and planning and getting ready scenario.  I am making lists, planning menu's, selecting recipe's, thinking about what I will wear, reminding myself to wash my sheitel, and so on. None of this is what I consider the REAL work of introspection, (Cheshbon HaNefesh), and attempting to fix what is wrong in my life (ie; behavior, actions, words, deeds, aka Tikkun HaNefesh). Yet the practical aspects of RH dominate.  It is not until I enter the shul to pray that I will begin to really FEEL - to experience emotions connected with this introspection and fixing of my soul.  I know it will come to me in a rush, a shock that all of a sudden, here I am, how can it be that it is RH already?  I think, I should spend, or rather have spent, more time in contemplation, in learning, in working to fix that which is wrong, BEFORE Rosh Hashanah.  It is precisely because of this that is the reason why we have this time between RH and YK -- to do that which we neglected before RH.  

One might think that as an Olah Chadashah, finally realizing my dream of living in the Holy Land, that I would have stronger feelings.  Right now, I don't -- and I do not know if I will.  Where I am, is too similar to where I was -- Hashmonaim is very much like Teaneck in many respects.  I am witnessing a certain level of gashmius here that I got away from when I moved to Baltimore.  I am somewhat hestitant to admit this -- because I am reluctant to hurt the feelings of those who live here, many of whom have reached out to me, and have helped me, and befriended me.  The fact is that the gashmius in no way obscures or renders unimportant the goodness that does exist here.  People here ARE wonderful.  I do feel welcomed.  And I do feel comfortable because this is all familiar to me.  

But last Shabbat I was elsewhere.  I was in a place where people live much more simply.  Some may have the money to afford more -- I can't tell.   But they live in smaller places and have less.  And I was so much more comforted there.  I also felt more spiritual -- and I am not so much of a spiritual person.  But I was able to emote, to FEEL while I davened...something I have barely been able to do here. 

I talk to G-d, all the time. I thank Him for all that I have. I ask him for good things in my life and the lives of my loved ones.  And yet....I feel lacking right now, as I approach the Yomim Noraim.  I am not sure what I am trying to say...I only know I feel like something (or perhaps someone) is missing in my life....

I pray for a Shana Tova for all my loved ones, family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers.  May you all be inscribed in the book of life for a year of only good things.  Amen. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Multi-tasking and Dating...

I am NOT a multi-tasker.  I honestly believe that anyone who claims to be a multitasker, and especially one who is PROUD of it, likely does not give his/her all to any task at hand, and much is lost in that.  I hear parents bemoaning the high incidence of ADD (attention deficit disorder) and at the same time praising "multi-taskers" for their ability to do more than one task at a time.  Do you see a problem here??? 

Anyway, this post is not meant to be a rumination the state of affairs regarding ADD and/or the concept of multi-tasking.  It is meant to be venting of my frustration over how exhausting I am finding my life to be at this time. 

Some of that exhaustion is due to the enormous levels of stress that have prevailed in my life over the past several years.  Based on the information in this website:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale my stress level is:  

  • Death of spouse 100 
  • Divorce (the litigation to which I was subject was tantamount to a divorce) 73 Losing my job 47 
  • Retirement (I am semi-retired, not entirely by choice) 45 
  • Change in health of family member (my mom was ill, my ex husband was ill, my son in law's grandmother was ill -- all at the same time) 44 
  • Major change in financial state 38 
  • Trouble with in laws 29 
  • Changes in living conditions 25 
  • Change in work hours, conditions 20 
  • Change in residence (TWICE) 20 
  • Changes in recreational activities, (had to stop due to physical limitations) 19 
  • Changes in shul activities 19 
  • Changes in social activities 18 
  • Changes in sleeping habits 16 
  • Changes in number of family gatherings 15 

TOTAL 528  

According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale a score of 300 or more means one is at risk of illness!  I scored 528!!

Add to this the fact that I am disabled - severely to profoundly deaf!

My current concerns have been and in some cases still are:  

  • having a car (I solved this one)
  • money to pay rent, utilities, groceries, car, and other necessary items. (So far, so good)
  • having a job (working on this one, so far receiving a large number of favorable responses to my CV, and have had several interviews and several more upcoming. Ability to use the phone remains an issue.)
  • meeting men (I DO wish to be remarried)
  • learning Hebrew (I am in ulpan 6 days a week, every morning for 4.5 hours)
I think I am doing REALLY WELL given all this...

Now, with regard to the issue of meeting men:  I have been rather recalcitrant of late with regard to this issue -- both in terms of actually meeting men and in terms of discussing it.  The recalcitrance in meeting men is NOT due to shyness or fear. It is due to the overwhelming tiredness I feel and my need to have a clear and relaxed mind when meeting men.  I do not want the negatives of my life to cast a shadow over my efforts. I want very much to leave the negatives behind me, in the dust of my life.   

However, I have not been devoid of efforts to meet men.  I am on Frumster and Saw You At Sinai.  I do tell friends that I am interested in being fixed up (although I have yet to have anyone offer to fix me up and I do not know if it is because no one has anyone to fix me up with, or if it is because they think I am too difficult or too weird to fix up. 

But recently I had an experience that really gives credence to my claim that many of the men who are age appropriate for me are damaged goods.  Here is what happened:  a gentleman contacted me via Frumster, indicating interest in me.  I responded positively and we exchanged a few emails.  I was interested in him although there was ONE thing that bothered me about him.  He wrote in his profile that he does not like "aggressive women".  I am pretty outgoing, and I am a bit of a fighter -- I have had to be, most of my life.  I consider myself assertive but there are those who think the difference between aggressive and assertive is hair-splitting.  But since everything else seemed okay I allowed myself to pursue this.   And this is what happened:

He indicated a desire to meet me early this week.  I explained to him that would not work since I am in ulpan and at the moment very involved in the business of acquiring a car.  I said that it was POSSIBLE that I could be available later in the week.  He then reluctantly agreed to this, but with what was essentially an ultimatum, that if I could not meet him this week, then he would consider it an indication that I am not serious about finding a husband and getting married!

I was definitely put off by this.  We had agreed to a Thursday evening meet, at a place of my choice in J'lem.  Then, last night my son-in-law offhandedly mentioned to me that his school is having a graduation ceremony for his class on Thursday evening in Haifa.  He had not informed me sooner, the result of his own indifference to this event.  But for me, I cannot be indifferent. I feel very strongly that he needs to participate and that we need to be there.  It is important to me that he feel good about himself.  He needs this.  So, I was thus in the position of having to excuse myself from the date for Thursday night.  I sent this man an email explaining the situation.  I suggested that we could meet after Yom Kippur.  His response? 

"There is NO way in my mind that you would make a time for us an entire week after meeting over Frumster, then ask me to meet you another almost 2 weeks after that.

Your need to re schedule is obviously fine. IF you are serious about wanting to wait almost 3 weeks to meet me after seeming so interested and telling me how lonely you are,...then I guess you have an awfully lot of self confidence that there are LOADS of younger men "out there" who are decent looking , financially/emotionally stable,  don't mind your extreme hearing loss and who aren't solely interested in sleeping around, with YOU as their next target.

Your signals are incredibly mixed. I'm not at all sure you know what you want at this point, at least as it relates to another marriage.

When you decide you are serious about dating, please write me back and if I am not already serious with someone else, we can meet for coffee, or lunch.

 My next wife will  make ME a priority , not to have to squeeze me in between some other commitments  she may have in Jerusalem weeks later."

I was not surprised at this response given his "ultimatum" beforehand.  But I am kind of dumbfounded at the extremeness of his position.  He wants me to make him a "priority" in my life before we have even met!  He shows a clear lack of understanding with regard to familial obligations, and with regard to MY time:  there is no way I am going to go gallivanting on a date just days before Rosh Hashanah when I have tons of work to do to prepare meals and do shopping, etc., all while attending ulpan every day for half a day!  

I think I am not being unreasonable.  But I would love to hear how my friends and family think about this.  What are YOUR thoughts?  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My obsession

Since before I made aliyah the one thing that has been most pressing in my mind has been a worry about whether or not I would manage to acquire a car once I made aliyah to Israel. 

My finances are not what they once were, due to circumstances described earlier in this blog, so I was rightfully concerned.  However, I did attempt to be as frugal as possible in an effort to have some funds available toward this purchase.  I have also been extremely resourceful in finagling my situation, financially anyway. 

Since I arrived in Israel, this most pressing concern has been ongoing.  One could say that I am/was obsessed. In fact, at one point while discussing this issue with my sister she DID say that I was obsessing over this and that I needed to relax a bit and put it in Hashem's hands.  I tried, I really have. I think I did, actually, but without forgetting it. It never went on the back burner for me...

Today I met with a "car tester" over a car that I was considering for purchase.  This was a man who comes to the car and tests it for all kinds of defects and then gives you a report as to its condition and safety.  I NEVER saw such thorough testing.  He used a probe to test paint thickness, and metal thickness and differences and oddities, and the plastic and he probed the car EVERYWHERE.  He took pictures.  He was able to determine if the car had been in any accidents, where the damage occurred and how, and what was repaired, or replaced.  He could determine how many accidents the car had been in. He also looked under the car, and checked the frame.  He checked the axle.  He looked at the wheels and the tires.  He looked under the hood.  He tested the engine. He took this stethoscope, with a long metal probe at the end and listened to the engine while it  was running. He inserted the probe in various places in the engine.  He took the car for a road test.  He tested the emissions.  It was amazing.  Then, he gave us a report.  He described the accidents the car was in and the damage. He also said the frame is good, the repair work is good, the car is safe.  He said it is obvious the car has been well taken care of.  He suggested the engine is a bit noisy and it needs a flush.  (this is a 10 year old car with 145k km on it).  He also said the two front tires need to be replaced.   In the end, I got the buyer to reduce the price and to agree to take the car to the mechanic to have the engine flushed.  

Now, we are just waiting for that to happen and for my money to show up in my bank account.  Then, I will have a car!  Whoopee!  

And now, I am just EXHAUSTED...  

Ulpan, Jobs, and a Car...

I hate juggling multiple tasks.  I am NOT a "multi-tasker". I do ONE thing at a time.  I like to FOCUS on whatever it is that is at hand, that I am working on, without the distraction of "other things".  But for the past week or so, I have had to diversify my focus, albeit, not simultaneously.  

One, I began ulpan.  I am proud to say that I am in Kita Gimmel, and I am keeping up with the class.  I was not sure what my level of Hebrew would be, after thirty years of non use.  As they say, "use it or lose it".  I forgot much but, happily, like riding a bicycle, much has come back to me.  I am fortunate too, that my teacher at ulpan, Dahlia, is an EXCELLENT teacher.  I like her a lot.  She spends enough time on sicha (in class discussion) and on dikduk (grammar) and reading that I feel like I am getting a good well rounded experience in learning Hebrew.  

Two, I have been sending out CV's and posting to all my networking sites and blogs and connecting with others in my field in an attempt to find a job.  I found thus far, not one, but two. Both are part time. Both are working from home.  Neither are high pressure.  I would prefer a "bona fide" job, perhaps even full time but for now this will do.  I have two amutot (non profit organizations) "on the hook", which are interested in me but which do not wish to pursue anything until after the chagim (Jewish holidays - Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah).  Again, this is fine for me.  It gives me more time to "settle down" a bit. 

Three, I have been consumed with the goal of acquiring a car.  After an initial foray into the possibility of borrowing money from a bank for the purchase, and the disappointment in learning that without a credit history HERE, it would be near impossible, I came up with a better plan.  I already had half the needed funds in my checking account (in the US).  I could take the other half from my IRA -- BUT -- I really did not want to do so in THIS tax year.  It would bump my income up into too high a tax bracket.  So, some very good friends of mine loaned me the needed funds with the agreement that I would repay them in Jan or Feb when I would be able to take the money out of my IRA without incurring too much tax liability.   (I have wonderful friends!)

With regard to finding a car, that was another hurdle for me.  Without good Hebrew skills and with the humongous difficulty that using the phone poses for me it was a HUGE hurdle.  Thank G-d for FRIENDS.  Another good friend (albeit a NEW one whom I only just met a few weeks ago) has been helping me by making connections for me, making calls for me, and going with me to look at cars.  Right now, there is a very good possibility that I will be purchasing a 2002 Toyota Corolla.  It has already 145k km, which is kind of high. But I took it for a test drive and it drives really well. The car is obviously well taken care of.  Today I will have a mechanic check it out and if all checks out, then I will buy the car.  I just hope the wire transfer I have requested comes through in good time. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Still unpacking...

I have been unpacking boxes since Monday two weeks ago.  And I am still not done. I remember when I moved from Teaneck to Baltimore.  I had my new apartment in tip top shape in two weeks.  But there are many differences in this move that account for the longer time it is taking me to get my house in order.  

  1. This is not just a move from one place to another. I IMMIGRATED to Israel. There is much more that I have had to deal 
  2. with regarding my immigration.  
  3. Movers in Israel do not unpack all the furniture and re-assemble all the furniture as they do in the States. 
  4. I moved into a house that essentially is the same size as my apartment in Baltimore, but my apartment in Baltimore was a 2 BR with a den.  All the rooms were HUGE.  My house here has more rooms in the same space, it could be a 5 BR house, all the rooms are much smaller than those in Baltimore.
  5. My married daughter and her husband and their 2 1/2 year old son, Gavriel also moved - into the same house with me!  So we are dealing with TWO households. 
But, I am being patient. Slowly, slowly, it will all get done.  At the end, everything will have a place and everything will be IN its place. 

I have had a great helper throughout the move:  my absolutely adorable and delicious grandson Gavriel. He loves to follow me around and help me unpack boxes, and put all the wrapping papers back into the boxes and move the boxes.  He is just delightful.  I could go on and on and on about him.  But I won't.  Those of you who are grandparents will understand...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

That Isreally Israeli feeling...

So, today I went to the Misrad HaKlita in Modiin.  It is located in a caravan amongst a group of caravans at the entrance to Modiin from C'vish 443. I needed to be there because I had not yet given them my banking info for my sal klita and I really needed that to be taken care of. I did not have an appointment. The woman with whom I was to do this business was Liora and her English was not good, and even though I am Kita Gimmel level Hebrew, the phone is IMPOSSIBLE for me.  I have a hard enough time deciphering English on the phone, forget about Hebrew.  I explained to her that I cannot hear, I am hard of hearing, wear hearing aids and the phone is impossible.  We exchanged emails in which she told me I needed to make an appointment to see her.  I asked her, via email, when and where and I would be there.  She never responded.  Finally, I asked and learned her schedule and just showed up.  

That was today.  As soon as she was not busy with other olim, I entered her office, sat down opposite her.  Immediately she tells me she cannot deal with me without an appointment -- I have to make an appointment.  I tell her, in Hebrew, just do ONE thing, one simple thing:  take my bank info and arrange for my sal klita to be deposited into my bank account.  That's all.  So, she agreed but said that she would not be able to spend time explaining things to me.  I smiled and said that would fine. So, she began to set up the sal klita deposit for me.  While she did this, I smiled at her and then started to ask her (in Hebrew, of course -- she is Russian), how long she is in Israel, how many languages she knows, and other things.  Result?  She flipped, she warmed up to me, smiled and became friendly.  And..she explained EVERYTHING to me.  I kept saying, there are people waiting, and she said, "Let them wait".  She was SO nice to me.  At the end though, before she bade me l'hitraot (see you later), she reminded me to make an appointment! I smiled and  said sure!  

Yesterday I was at the local Rami Levy supermarket, picking up a few things.  In the checkout line, in front of me was a woman with her two daughters. I was watching them and noticed that every time the older daughter spoke to her mother she tapped her on the arm or shoulder and always looked straight at her face.  I surmised that the mother must be deaf but was not sure.  After a while my curiosity got the better of me, and I tapped the woman on the arm and asked about that.  She confirmed my guess, that she was deaf. Her lipreading was impeccable.  I told her that I wanted to learn Hebrew from her daughter because I could read her lips so well too!!  She too, spoke no English. I told her a bit about my own hearing loss and my experiences.  It was a nice connection to make.  

The day before that, I had car trouble.  I have been driving a rented car.  The battery was dead when I went out in the morning to start it up and my amazing neighbors came to my rescue with jumper cables and a powerful jump start.  We let it run a while and then I went about my business.  I made a few stops, with no problem.  Then, my last stop, also at the Misrad HaKlita (that time about ulpan), the battery was again dead.  And so was my cell phone!  So there I was with a dead car, dead phone, in a country that I have only been in for a few weeks, and with a language that I am not so fluent in....I hiked back to the Misrad HaKlita and explained my predicament.  Rita (Rakezet Ulpan) was fabulous. She called the rental company for me and told them the problem. They said they would come but it would be an hour because they were coming from Netanya.  So Rita told them to call HER when they arrived, and she told me to sit in the air conditioned office and have a cold drink too!   I sat there and then others came in the office and I was included in the discussions!  It was so funny, no one is concerned about privacy at all!  I had a good time while waiting for the auto technician to arrive.  He was going to jump me but I told him no, I want a NEW BATTERY, this happened TWICE and it is NOT good. He shrugged and did as I asked.  He was courteous enough though.  

So, these vignettes have been just a few of the things I have experienced thus far...I am truly enjoying myself here.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Faith ...again...

I spent this past Shabbat in Mercaz Shapira by my sister.  I am so glad that she and I are finally going to be friends...there is nothing like having a family member as your friend!

I was kind of flabbergasted at her menu:  Friday night we had stuffed peppers and for Seudat Shlishit we had corn fritters.  Not that those foods in and of themselves flabbergasted me.  It was the choices of foods.  You see, on Wednesday night I made stuffed peppers for dinner and on Thursday night Chloe made corn fritters for dinner!!  It was kind of a strange deja vu!!!  I did try to see or ascribe some meaning to this but, heck, this is just food, folks!  Good food to be sure, but just food nonetheless. 

While by my sister I was describing to her my "plans" on how to manage financially and was detailing my income to expense ratio and worrying myself over it.  Finally she told me that I am being to "medakdek" and that I need to relax and turn myself over to Hashem and let Him take care of things.  I can only plan just so much and then I have to trust in Him to make sure we will be okay.  

This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  I have always had trouble with this and over the past few years I have had to do this a lot so you would think with all this practice it would get easier.  But it never gets easier.  It is always scary.  But I am trying, I am trying. 

Today, I drove from Mercaz Shapira to Rami Levy at Shilat, then to the house in Hashmonaim, dropped off my stuff and the groceries I bought (drinks, drinks, drinks, biscuits, cookies, and plums) and then went to Nof Ayalon.  The kids loaded the car with their stuff then drove me back to Hashmonaim, to the house and they went up to Haifa.  I spent the next several hours sorting out my stuff and putting things into place and measuring and making plans for where everythign is to go.  When I was done I went to the Fulds, annoyed them for a bit, and then went to find Pizza Mia, the local pizzeria.  I ordered four pies of pizza for tomorrow for the workers,  then picked up an iced coffee at the makolet and hiked back to the house. At the house I gathered my things: laptop, overnight stuff, and then hiked back over to the Fulds.  I am here now. relaxing in the cook a/c with a tall glass of cold drink and some nice green grapes.  

Tomorrow will be a big and long day...I will be reunited with all my STUFF!!   I can't wait.   

Last night I sent out about 150 CV's to many different amutot (ngo's) in Israel.  I recieved a few responses, mostly that they have no openings, a few who are forwarding my CV to the proper personnel and one which wants to interview me.  I have a feeling I am going to wind up working full time and commuting, two things I did not really want to do. I wanted to work part time either nearby or from home....

Oh well... I need to pay the bills. 

Any sugar daddies out there???  (JK!)